Why Small Nations Can Change the World

Why Small Nations Can Change the World

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The outdated legislation and bureaucratic decision-making we face in the world today are major barriers to progress. There are good reasons for some of it, but compelling reasons to remove most of it.

The answers to some of the biggest problems we face have already been solved – but government bureaucracy is holding them back. There are millions (if not billions) of people suffering unnecessarily as a result. People are literally dying because of this, which is a tragedy of global proportions.

The world is changing faster and faster every year. At government level there are huge diseconomies of scale. The smaller the organisation, the easier it is to make decisions. Which is where the opportunity for small nations comes in.

The best organisations in the world right now look nothing like governments. They have learnt to move beyond being slow, siloed, risk-averse hierarchical  structures. Decades ago, they  might have looked similar, but the cutting edge of commerce has radically moved forward. That is the power of competition and markets, I suppose. Whereas governments are monopolies and therefore have been far less able to adapt or change the way they operate to cope with this radically changing future.

That is one of the main weaknesses of short term democracy, for me. Short-term election cycles, and governments under the spotlight of a 24/7 news industry desperate for attention in order to sell advertising, are creating a dangerous cycle of status quo maintenance, risk-aversion and short-term thinking. But bold progressive change comes from the complete opposite: innovation, risk-taking and long term thinking are the keys to social progress.

If you were to design a democratic system to deliver a great quality of life for its citizens, it would look nothing like it does now. You could say the same about many of the services that government runs. Reactive healthcare systems and one-size-fits-all curriculum-based education are good examples of that. Structurally, at the government level, we still live in the Victorian age.

This phenomenon is absolutely everywhere. We don’t even realise! Our current view of democracy and the whole notion of voter representation is ridiculous, given the technology available today. Democracy is still undemocratic.

When it took us days to get around the country by horse, we needed political representation,  but these days the population is more than capable of voting on every issue. Switzerland, for example, already has a system where voters can participate in voting on policy. Has that country descended into chaos because it gave the people more power? Hardly!

Why on earth, as electorates, we can’t work directly with the civil service using electronic voting technologies, I just don’t understand! We just don’t need politicians any more.  For true democracy, we need a technology platform – and that is more than possible now.

The first nation to implement this properly will allow the human race to take another major step forward, towards a much purer form of democracy. That nation will forever be referenced in the history of humanity for its contribution to the world.

I won’t hold my breath, though. All of that involves small numbers of human beings voting themselves out of a job, and we all know that turkeys wouldn’t vote for Christmas. Which is why I find the seasteading movement so interesting, and can’t wait to see what impact it makes in the coming decades. For those who don’t know, seasteads are man-made floating communities that operate outside of national borders. There are many of these in the pipeline, and these outlier communities hold the key to testing new societal ideas, free from the restrictions of the past.

In the meantime, there is a huge opportunity for small countries to let go of the past and take the lead, rather than lagging conservatively behind. I argue that small countries have a moral imperative to lead rather than follow, given their ability to swiftly innovate, in contrast to their larger neighbours with their cumbersome bureaucratic machinery. To me, small nations have an obligation to use their size to their advantage, not only to improve life for their own citizens, but also to provide evidence and information to enable the rest of the world to move forward, as well.

That takes a kind of collective community responsibility that has never been seen before. Progressive legislation and social innovation are the keys to changing the world. The small nations that understand this will not only produce the strong and vibrant societies of tomorrow. They will have paved the way for the rest of the world to become a better place to live, as well.

Personally, I can’t wait to see the first small nations start to understand how truly important they are for everyone.

As always, your ideas and insights are welcome in the comment section below.


P.S. As many of you know, I live in the small nation of Guernsey. A group of people within our community is forming a movement with this world-impacting opportunity at its very heart. For more information, please visit The Dandelion Project website.

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  1. Mark, some good points but Switzerland still needs politicians.
    Politicians don’t need to have a bad name, and democracy also means having people to represent you and to lead, and set the direction. Surely this is more democratic than Civil Servants doing it !

    • Hi Tony. I just don’t believe that you need a political layer to represent people. Certainly given what is technically possible these days it is something that is worth testing. To cling on to a system that we have not fundamentally reinvented or challenged for hundreds of years given our exponentially changing future is like turning up to a gunfight with a water pistol. The system is just not fit for purpose given the speed of that the future is unfolding. Marc

  2. Tony Trenker says

    Off the top of my head there seems to be a pattern in the evolution of human governance:

    1) The dictator represents themselves at the expense of the country
    2) The king represents the country at the expense of society
    3) The parliament represents society at the expense of the people

    So what could the next natural step in this evolution be?
    4) The people represent themselves

    I’m not sure that democracy is the mechanism for the implementation of the fourth step of the evolution of human governance. I’d love to discuss what is – if only the Dandelion peeps would get back to me (I joined but no response as yet). This is a problem with revolution – ‘personal engagement and response’. In a revolution you need a fair amount of ‘personal engagement and response’ and signing up to a website and hearing nothing back does not invigorate my revolutionary spirit.

    Cancel all the meetings! Someone light the fire!

    • I agree with the website Tony although I would challenge you not to wait for others and to get on with the challenge of solving the problems that you see. The Dandelion Project is still in pre-launch mode. The organisers behind it are focussed on delivering TEDx St Peter Port on March 20th. If you have signed up you will be invited to whatever happens next as soon anything is organised. At the moment it is a group of people working in their spare time.

  3. Hi Marc, I live in a small nation called Lesotho which gradually depent on South Africa in almost everything and my country has the beautiful scenery, a lot of water carried by big mountains. It is 100m above sea level, which is great for tourism. It would be great for small nations to be dependent and grow on their own by taking advantage of its size in order to develop. But its all about worldview as it greats reality, if authorities can change the way of thinking, we can go far.

  4. It is the people that should change the way of thinking not the authorities. Community leads government not the other way round. Be the change you want to see in the world.

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